NAVAL BASE CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- The "Firehawks" of Helicopter Combat Support Special Squadron (HCS) 5 received the Navy Unit Commendation (NUC) in February 2006 for exceptionally meritorious service from March 2003 through April 2004.
During this period, the squadron completed more than 1,700 combat flight hours and 900 combat air missions in direct support of U.S. and multinational special operations forces in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
"The Firehawks of HCS-5 are honored to receive the Navy Unit Commendation for operations conducted during Operation Iraqi Freedom in support of the global war on terrorism," said Cmdr. Patrick A. Baccanari. "The presentation of the NUC to the Sailors of HCS-5 and the recognition that accompanies this unit award is appreciated by all who will proudly wear the ribbon. It is a testament to the many HCS-5 operational accomplishments and the Firehawk fighting spirit."
The NUC presented to HCS-5 marked both the anniversary of the global war on terrorism and the squadron's participation with missions in Iraq since the inception of the war. Since 2003, the Firehawks have played an integral role in the global war on terrorism by providing direct support to the special operations community during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The NUC commended HCS-5 for its rapid response to deploy to Iraq and commence combat operations within 10 days of receiving mobilization and deployment orders.
The Firehawks' initial mobilization in support of OIF lasted from March 2003 to April 2004, with most Selected Reservists demobilizing in April. However, in July 2005, the squadron deployed again to Iraq, with a continuous rotation of Full Time Support personnel, volunteer Selected Reservists, and Active Component augmentees.
HCS-5 is comprised of 51 percent Full Time Support and 49 percent Selected Reserve personnel who train and deploy together as operational detachments. The seamless integration of Reservists allows the squadron to optimize manpower to complete joint force missions while maintaining readiness and effectively meeting the needs of the Navy.
During their ongoing support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Firehawks have worked side by side with U.S. Navy, Marine, Army and Air Force special operations forces. In addition, they have also flown missions in support of Iraqi and coalition forces.
"The HCS community is proud of the outstanding operational reputation it has earned while representing the Navy in the joint operational environment and especially within the special operations community," said Baccanari.
But for the Firehawks deployed in Iraq, the job satisfaction they get from working at the tip of the spear is worth the additional effort.
"We have guys come back that feel they've had a direct impact," said Senior Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic (AW) Wayne Kloss. "You see it every day we're out there."
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